International Policy Center Home Page

Leadership development

Leadership skills for transformative public service
Explore our Leadership Initiative

Tools to impact and influence others

“Leadership doesn’t come by title. You don’t have to be the head of an organization to have an impact.

Morela Hernandez, Ligia Ramirez de Reynolds Collegiate Professor of Public Policy and faculty director of the Leadership Initiative

The field of public policy involves difficult work that includes strong scientific inquiry and analysis, as well as leadership skills to navigate politics, advocacy and coalition building, communication across differences, and the ability to envision and make change. 

We know that leadership doesn't "just happen." All of us have the capacity to lead—to make a positive impact on our organizations, communities, and the people around us.

The Ford School's competency-based curricula for all students include a strong focus on management and leadership skills. Our one-of-a-kind Leadership Initiative develops and offers a growing suite of graduate and undergraduate student leadership courses, coaching, and extracurricular programs that build on and complement the school's excellent, rigorous curriculum. Led by Professor Morela Hernandez and a team of leadership and career development professionals, our program is the only of its kind among policy schools.

Susan Rice and Students

The school also hosts a number of public events that allow students to interact with current and former policy leaders at all levels. These have included Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Christopher Wray, Susan Rice, Gretchen Whitmer, and Stephen Biegun. Students are encouraged to access the Ford School’s top-notch Writing Center, including one-on-one tutorials and policy-writing modules.

Leadership development further leverages the key analytical skills that Ford School students possess, so they can lead themselves and others to make the change that they want to see in the world.

Ford School students in discussion with community leaders
Elizabeth Powers (MPP/JD '23)

Leadership skills that complement a technical toolkit

"The Ford School is a place of community and supporting the whole person. With the Leadership Initiative, I feel like I have developed as a future member of the workplace and of society. I have strong quantitative and qualitative skills from coursework; and now I have stronger leadership skills."
Student raising hand
Julia Weigand (MPP '20)

Strategies for asking the right questions

“Our coach asked us how we wished to make an impact, why, and using what skills? We discussed strategies for asking the right questions, turning self-reflection into action, and supporting each other in our professional and personal goals.”
J’Taime Lyons (MPP/MBA ‘22)

Leadership lessons from Ambassador Susan Rice

“I appreciated [Ambassador Rice's] reflections on how not only her skills, but also her temperament and confidence, allowed her to be successful in diplomacy as a Black woman.”
Read Ambassador Rice shares leadership lessons

Growing as a leader requires developing self-awareness. Multiple opportunities at the Ford School allow us to build intentionality and transform the way we lead, learn, serve, communicate and collaborate in teams."

Clary Baudraz (MPP '21)



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